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“Conversion of Russia” Update:

Russia Passes Ominous “Hate Crimes” Law

by Christopher A. Ferrara

On June 27, 2002 The New York Times reported that Vladimir (“the practicing Christian”) Putin has just rammed through the lower house of the Russian parliament a new “hate crimes” bill whose ostensible purpose is “to fight hate crimes and attacks by fascist groups.” The bill passed by a vote of 274 to 175, and is “expected to pass the upper chamber of Parliament easily.”

The purported justification for this measure was to address “a spate of attacks by young Russians on people of other ethnic backgrounds.” But on closer examination we see the real purpose of the bill: the immediate suppression, without due process, of any group deemed “extremist” by the local police. As the Times notes, the bill “allows authorities to suspend organizations suspected of [extremism], even before courts decide their guilt.” Worse, the power to suspend organizations accused of “extremism” lies with “the local police and prosecutors, two groups that are little trusted by ordinary Russians.”

The key, of course, is the definition of “extremism”. Lev Levinson of the Human Rights Institute warns that “this law will bring nothing good” because “the definition of extremist is too unclear.” Levinson concludes that the bill “puts all civil society under threat… Are protesting mothers in Chechnya extremists?” Indeed, as the Times observes, “The Moscow city prosecutor, for example, has been trying to ban Jehovah’s witnesses for years… The new law would make it easier for the city prosecutor to ban the group.” Say what you will about the Jehovah’s witnesses, the question remains: Can Russian “democracy” be said to exist at all if a local prosecutor has the power to ban any group he deems “extremist”?

The Times further notes that critics of the bill are alarmed that “the law will be imposed by poorly paid, working-class police officers who often give tacit approval to aggression against foreigners.” As Levinson notes, “people fear the police no less than skinheads.” In other words, in practice the law will be used to suppress groups other than the ones cited as justification for the law.

This is hardly surprising to anyone who has followed the Practicing Christian’s slow but sure progress toward an overtly authoritarian state in Russia. The Practicing Christian now controls all national mass media in Russia — every national television and radio station in private hands has been shut down on pretext of “debt collection” and placed under state control. Accordingly, the Practicing Christian oversaw a total blackout of the Pope’s recent televised appearance at Moscow’s Cathedral of the Assumption. At the same time, the Practicing Christian remains silent about the expulsion of Bishop Mazur and two key priests in the tiny Catholic apparatus in Russia.

And now a “hate crimes” bill that allows the Practicing Christian to suppress, through the local police and prosecutors, any group deemed “extremist”. Thus proceeds the “conversion” of Russia.